Increasing numbers of ineligible trying to book vaccine in NI, including from RoI - Donnelly

The head of Northern Ireland’s Vaccination Programme has said they have had an increase in the number of ineligible people, including people from the Republic, trying to book a vaccine slot.

Patricia Donnelly was speaking as she urged people to check they qualified before trying to book and warned people will be turned away if they do not.

The advice came as the Northern Ireland Executive announced yesterday that the SE Arena in Belfast - the planned primary site for mass vaccinations in the north - are now taking bookings for Covid-19 Vaccine.

People from NI aged 50 and over can now book their Covid-19 vaccine at the SSE Arena ahead of its opening on March 29.

Patricia Donnelly, Head of the Covid-19 Vaccine Programme pictured at a previous press conference in Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The SSE Arena will be a regional vaccination centre working alongside Trust centres and GP practices. Community pharmacists will also join the vaccination programme next week, bringing vaccinations to many local high streets.

Head of the Vaccination Programme, Patricia Donnelly said: “Today we see another significant step forward in the Northern Ireland vaccination programme. The SSE Arena will enable us to vaccinate a minimum of 4,000 per day building up to 8,000 and I urge anyone who is eligible to book their slot.”

Patricia Donnelly is also urging the public to check they are eligible before booking or they will be turned away at the vaccination centre.

She said: “We are seeing increasing numbers of ineligible people, including people from the ROI, trying to book an appointment at one of our vaccination centres.

“Only those who meet the criteria will be vaccinated.

“If you turn up and are not eligible you will be turned away and you will have wasted staff time in the process.”

To avail of a vaccine in Northern Ireland you must have the following:

*A Northern Ireland HSC number

*You must be registered with a Northern Ireland GP

*Produce photographic ID

*Only those in eligible groups will be vaccinated

Patricia concluded: “Check before you book. Do not make a wasted journey. You will not be vaccinated unless you are eligible. Do not waste your time and the precious time of centre staff.

“We anticipate the booking system will be extremely busy, so please be patient when you are booking your slot.”

To book an appointment online: eligible to book are:

*those aged 70 or older at 31 March 2021

*those aged 65-69 at 31 March 2021

*those who are clinically extremely vulnerable aged 16 or over at 31 March 2021 and have a shielding letter

*those aged 60 – 64 at 31 March 2021

*those aged 55 – 59 at 31 March 2021

*those aged 50 – 54 at 31 March 2021

*those who have an underlying condition aged 16 -17 at 31 March, who have a GP letter

*a letter from your hospital specialist or your GP

*an email or letter from your employer – if you are directly involved in providing health and social care in Northern Ireland